Happy Hour at Muddy Leek (Culver City)

Behind the Bar - Muddy Leek

A few weeks ago, I attended happy hour at Muddy Leek, the “hyper-seasonal” restaurant from catering couple Chef Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff of Bon Mélange Catering. Born from years of entertaining experience and a series of underground dinners, Muddy Leek is the couple’s first independent restaurant. Chef Whitney’s commitment to using the best of fresh, in-season ingredients promised a happy hour out of the norm of traditional bar bites, with bar manager Lance Kawani mixing up a myriad of cocktails to quench our thirst.

Lamb Merguez Hot Dog - Muddy Leek Invitational
Merguez Hot Dog
garlic aioli – grilled baguette

I’ve never been a fan of Merguez sausage, and I can’t say I’ve been won over yet. I think it might be the harissa? Either way, I only took a nibble of this to confirm my continual aversion to the meat. With that said, though, my companion was over the moon for this and wolfed down about four of them. Just don’t tell her I told you.

Grilled Speck and Manchego - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Grilled Speck and Manchego

My jaw dropped when I was told that the protein was speck, a meat I hadn’t eaten since I was last in Ireland. I’ve never seen speck within the USA, but I love its herby, juniper laden flavors. The addition of Manchego (Spanish cheese) elevated this bite in a way I never thought possible for simple grilled cheese. This was truly a pairing made in culinary heaven.

Italian Mule - Muddy Leek Invitational
Italian Mule
vodka – amaro meletti – lime – ginger soda

The most familiar drink of the night; an Italian twist on the classic Moscow variety by the addition of Amaro Meletti, a liqueur with notes of saffron and anise. A safe and sweet drink to perk up the palate.

Venison Corndog - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Venison Corndog
house beer mustard

I was not particularly smitten with this bite, but my guest thought highly of it along with the beer mustard – which I did enjoy.

Chicken Fried Bacon - Muddy Leek Invitational
Chicken Fried Bacon
bibb lettuce, tomato chutney

If Victor Frankenstein were a chef rather than a scientist (really, the only difference is their mediums), he would have concocted this beautiful monstrosity. I cannot even begin to tell you how perfectly decadent these morsels are. I feel like running naked through the reflecting pool at the Washington Monument would be more dignified than sharing the sorry/not sorry lustful feelings I have for this dish. I regret not personally ordering another round to hoard all to my greedy self.

Blind Lemon Jefferson - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Blind Lemon Jefferson
rye, lemon, bitters

I was a bit nervous when this drink was given to me, as I normally don’t go for bold, masculine drinks. However, the lemon balanced out the rye without treading into ‘sweet’ territory, effectively making this drink not only palatable but completely pleasant and approachable for future visits.

Leek Pizetta - Mudddy Leek Snack Bites
Leek Pizetta
potato, bacon, cheese

The starch on starch combo was a big hit with everyone save for me, as I’ve never understood the appeal. Potato on pizza dough aside, though, the leeks, bacon and cheese were the real stars of this show. The leeks especially prominently stood out, giving a nice, earthy onion-y flavor.

Donut Holes - Muddy Leek Invitational
Doughnut Holes

I’m not one for doughnuts, really, but these were just the right size for a touch of sweetness after all of our savory bites. My guest, a doughnut fiend, loved the simplicity of these little balls of fried dough coated plainly in sugar. A very happy end to our happy hour food.

Sr. Calarita - Muddy Leek Happy Hour
Sr. Calarita
mezcal, jalapeno, cucumber, lime

Hands down, the best cocktail of the evening. The jalapeno added a whole new level of heady smokiness, a slow burn with a crisp cool down from the cucumber and lime. I could have had four of these.

It was nice to step out of my usual haunts and into a neighborhood I’m only beginning to become more acquainted with. As the event took place on a Thursday, it was the perfect evening to give those of us dealing with company/family the fortitude to brave through the holiday (Easter) weekend. Overall, the food was extremely enjoyable and left me with a pleasant, lingering feeling of wanting more. Precisely what happy hour is meant to accomplish. Happy hour at Muddy Leek runs from 4:00-6:00pm Tuesday through Saturday.

Muddy Leek
8631 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, 90232

Muddy Leek on Urbanspoon


A Taste Of: Culver City

Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City

My latest article for The Place: Los Angeles is all about Culver City, with nods to the Helms Bakery District (where Father’s Office is located) and the early film history of the area. The restaurant I highlighted was >Waterloo & City, a real gem I will not hesitate for a moment to recommend. Below are some behind the scenes notes on my day in Culver City.


  • CLICK HERE to read all about WATERLOO & CITY

  • Waterloo & City - Culver City
    Beef Wellington – Waterloo & City

    I knew going in that night that I would be ordering the beef wellington, a dish I once tried to master, but wound up sobbing in tears because I used too thick of a piece of meat and parts of it wound up well done. Luckily, the center only made it to medium, but I was still heartbroken. This beef wellington was beyond words in terms of flavor and execution; I am inspired to give it another go.

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City
    Fountain at the Helms Baking District

    Old Town Culver City
    Culver City Studios

    In 1918, film pioneer Thomas Ince set up shop in Culver City, erecting this mansion to house his studios. Throughout the years, the keys turned over to Cecil B. DeMille, RKO and DesiLu Productions, home of I Love Lucy. Films and TV shot there include Gone with the Wind, Kill Bill, Star Trek (original), and Batman, starring Adam West. To take this shot, I had to stand on a brick fence and lean against, and anchor my feet, under the iron posts of the fence built on top of the brick.

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City
    Arcana: Books on the Arts

    I could have spent an entire day inside Arcana, flipping through their massive collection on photography, fashion and textiles, architecture and travel. I was particularly taken with a book on pin-up photographer Bunny Yeager, and made sure to scrawl its title down for future reference. I remember Arcana from their days at their shop on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica; they hung on as long as they could but the atmosphere and direction of the once unique outdoor promenade is now but a sad, carbon copy of any mall in America. Arcana has thrived, and is enjoying their new digs at the Helms Bakery District.

    Waterloo & City - Culver City
    Duck and Walnut County Pate – Waterloo & City

    Old Town Culver City
    The Art Deco Pacific Theatre

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City
    Rejuvenation: Classic American Lighting and House Parts

    What’s that, my precious? You want to come home with mummy? If only I could. We will just have to be content with this picture and the memories of our fated meeting. I will always think of you fondly. Yes, I have a thing for light fixtures.

    Waterloo & City - Culver City
    Olive Oil Cake – Waterloo & City

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City
    Helms Bakery Delivery Truck

    My mother had a kick of a time recalling the days of the Helms Bakery Delivery truck, delivering fresh baked bread to her L.A. suburb home until costs outweighed profit and shut the business down shortly after the moon landing in 1969.

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City
    Helms: Olympic Bread

    Old Town Culver City
    Old Town Culver City

    It had rained, down poured, right before I headed out to Culver City. I had hesitated going on, not so much because of my inherent aversion to rain, but because I feared my camera would get damaged. Luckily, the skies parted and the rain moved on and left me with an amazing afternoon of the only kind of perfect lighting that Mother Nature could only provide.

    Please enjoy the entire set of my day in Culver City!

    <a href="http://www.waterlooandcity.com/&quot; target="_blank"Waterloo & City
    12517 West Washington Blvd,
    Culver City, CA 90066

    Helms Bakery District
    8800 Venice Boulevard
    Culver City, 90034

    Father’s Office (Culver City)

    Helms Bakery Shopping Center - Culver City

    Father’s Office came recommended to me by my honorary brother, Will. I was asking for Culver City recommendations, because that is where the focus is for my next article with The Place: Los Angeles. I wound up going for Waterloo & City for my official feature, thinking Father’s Office was just a run of the mill hipster burger joint. When the day to go explore Culver City was upon me, I wound up at the Helms Bakery Center purely by chance. Which is where Father’s Office just happens to be located. Seeing as we had time to kill, I talked my companions (i.e. my mom and her friend) into having a bite at Father’s Office. By talked into I mean “I said, hey, Will suggested this place. Maybe we should-” Them: “YES! YES WE SHOULD!”

    Though I’d say the food is the main attraction, Father’s Office is still a bar and thus we were carded as we approached the entrance. We had to stake out a table and snipe it as quickly as we could as it was that jammed packed. On a Sunday. At two-thirty! Clearly, there is something magical about this place…

    My mom recalled the fame of the original Father’s Office location in Santa Monica, which originated the famous “Office Burger” we knew we had to order and split. For posterity.

    Here is what we ordered:

    Lunch at Father's Office - Culver City

    Lunch at Father's Office - Culver City

    Both of these drinks were ordered under the “Fruity and Herbaceous” section of the very well organized drink menu. The former was a European intensely berry flavored libation, and even my mother, a staunch beer hater, enjoyed the sip she took. Dawn, who ordered it, said she would order it again in a heartbeat. My own beer was a local brew, nice a citrusy wheat void of the dreaded hops I loathe in beers. Very crisp and refreshing, these both went well with our food.

    Spanish Mushroom's at Father's Office - Culver City
    Spanish Mushrooms (5)
    garlic, thyme, jerez vinegar, olive oil

    Mom insisted on these, and who am I to protest such juicy, flavorful fungi? With just four simple ingredients, this handful of mushrooms were positively transformed into a higher level of umami. Do not question. Just order them.

    The Office Burger - Father's Office - Culver City
    The Office Burger (12.5)
    caramelized onion, bacon, gruyere, maytag blue, arugula

    I put my mom in charge of ordering this and caught her attempting to order it well done. WELL DONE. I swear, I almost gave myself up for adoption on the spot. I corrected the order and asked for medium. They brought it practically mooing in a pasture, grazing lazily on a warm spring afternoon. Well played, Father’s Office.
    If there is a messier burger on this planet, I am unaware of its presence. However, sloppiness aside, this burger lived up to the hype and then some. Honestly; I didn’t change a thing about this burger and I generally do not like meat + meat burgers, but the bacon wasn’t a bother in the least. All of the components were harmonious, so grab a stack of napkins and go to town.

    Lunch at Father's Office - Culver City
    Roasted Beef Marrow (11)
    parsley caper salad, sel grits, feasts

    The food of the gods, this portion of beef marrow was generous, with the actual marrow outweighing the salad and toast. I stopped just short of sticking my tongue down the bone. Only because my mother was present.

    If it isn’t abundantly evident, Father’s Office caught my attention, held it and made me hungry for more. Thanks to the newly opened Expo Line, Father’s Office isn’t but a hop, skip and a jump away from me. I predict repeat visits for further menu sampling. For posterity.

    Father’s Office
    3229 Helms Ave
    Los Angeles 90034
    (310) 736-2224


    Father's Office on Urbanspoon

    What’s the Dish: Restaurant Openings

    WHAT: Le Ka

    WHO: Chef Remi Lauvand (Gérard Pangaud, La Grenouille, Le Cirque, and Montrachet)

    WHERE: 800 West 6th Street, Los Angeles CA 90017

    HOURS: (Lunch) Mon-Fri 11a–3p | (Dinner) Daily 5p–11p | (Happy Hour) Mon-Fri 3p–7p | (Late Night) Mon-Sat 11p–2a & Sun 11pm-midnight

    SAMPLE MENU ITEMS: Roasted Black Cod with Oxtail Ragu,Sweetbread with Wild Mushrooms, Roquette and Parmesan, Braised Rabbit Leg with Leeks Fondue, Roasted Tomatoes and Parsley Jus, Escargots with Potato Gnocchi, Uni with Braised Oxtail, Wild Boar Albondigas, Chinese Style Braised Pork Shoulder Flatbread with Shishito Peppers, Charcuterie: Chicken “Faux” Gras; Beef Tartare; Duck Rilletes; Pigs Trotter; Mini Rabbit Terrine and Apicius, Chef Lauvand’s own “home brewed” hard cider.

    DETAILS: At Le Ka, Lauvand focuses on local and artisanal ingredients to create an elegant yet approachable menu of globally inspired fare. Alongside the traditional menu, Lauvaund’s specialty arises in the grand tradition of European charcuterie, offering delicacies that are an exciting addition to the urban Los Angeles restaurant scene. When he’s not in the kitchen, Lauvand enjoys brewing his infamous hard cider, named Apicius after Caesar’s Imperial Roman chef and sought after by friends and imbibers worldwide.

    GIVE ME MORE: For more information, please visit http://lekarestaurant.com or call (213) 688-3000

    WHAT: Muddy Leek

    WHO: Whitney Flood and Julie Retzlaff (Bon Mélange Catering) & bar manager John Coltharp

    WHERE: 8631 Washington Blvd. Culver City 90232

    HOURS: (Lunch) Mon-Fri 11a-3p (Dinner) Wed-Sat 6p-10p (Happy Hour) Wed-Fri 4p-6p

    SAMPLE MENU ITEMS: Porcini & Leek Tart, Spicy Chicken Jjigae Soup, Rabbit-Pistachio Ballontine, Paso Prime Flat Iron Steak, Juniper-Venison, Caramelized Apple-Cinnamon Tart.

    DETAILS: Born from years of entertaining experience and a series of underground dinners, Muddy Leek is the pair’s first independent brick-n-mortar restaurant. As Chef and proprietor of Muddy Leek, Whitney Flood channels his love for seasonal and sustainable dining on a daily basis. Leaving behind a successful catering career in New York, Flood returned to the micro-seasonal ingredients of the West Coast, starting Bon Mélange Catering in 2006 with his wife Julie Retzlaff. Based in Los Angeles, the husband-wife duo extraordinaire combined their strengths and skills to create artisanal, market-inspired, farm-to-table fare for events ranging from weddings to underground pop-up dinners in LA’s well-established urban art scene. Muddy Leek follows the natural progression of the couple’s story. Making everything from scratch and in-house, Muddy Leek’s menu focuses on fine artisanal and locally sourced ingredients. Dishes are an eclectic array, balancing notes of international flair and home style comfort.

    GIVE ME MORE: For more information, please call 310.838.2281

    images and info courtesy of Bread & Butter PR